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De Laurentiis: Napoli on same level as Barca and Madrid

Aurelio de Laurentiis claims Napoli are on the same level as Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

De Laurentiis, who became president in 2004 with Napoli banished to the third-tier due to bankruptcy, has overseen an upturn in fortunes during his reign at the helm, with the club now topping the Serie A table.

The 66-year-old has praised the impact coach Maurizio Sarri, with the Naples side leapfrogging Inter into first place with a 2-1 home win on Monday.

"We are the leaders thanks to Sarri," De Laurentiis said in quotes attributed to Repubblica.

"He came across some difficulties at the start of the season but now the players who take to the pitch are perfect.

"Of course I hope to win all the time, so at Christmas it could be that we will have more points than the [team] second in the standings."

Napoli are leading the charge at home and in Europe, with Sarri's men already through to the last 32 of the Europa League with a game to spare due to their 100 per cent record.

De Laurentiis believes Napoli's form this season proves they are amongst Europe's elite teams and highlighted the tough road they were forced to take.

"I picked up at the Naples court failures [bankruptcy] and now we are the 15th team in the world. On the same level as Real Madrid and Barcelona," he added.

"But these teams, as well as those governed by Russian oligarchs and Arab sheikhs, have many millions to invest and to smooth out deficits. We, on the contrary, we respect the timely financial fair play advocated by Michel Platini."